Moloch was once Master of Malbolge, but now exists as an exile from the Nine Hells. His idol was defaced on the cover of the first Player’s Handbook, and his stats are previewed in the latest issue of Dragon+
Let’s head into the weekend with another preview from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. Straight out of the pages of the latest issue of Dragon+ (and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes), we have another monster for you.
via Wizards of the Coast
This time it’s Moloch, the exiled ex-prince of the Nine Hells. He was once the ruler of Malbolge, until he attempted to seize control of the Nine Hells via an ill-fated conspiracy against Asmodeus (never try and pull one over on Asmodeus), and was instead stripped of his title and sentenced to death. He escaped–only to try and invade the Nine Hells and seize back his former standing. This coup also failed, and now the Archdevil is powerful everywhere but his native plane, where he is reduced instantly to an imp upon his return.
Though he is an archdevil-in-exile he still schemes to try and regain what was his. And that detail is kind of amazing. You can really see that “how does this fit into a story” mindset in place. There are no end of adventures inspired from Moloch just through his backstory alone. And even that’s not the whole of it. He also has cursed idols and fiendish influences throughout the material planes.
But you didn’t come here just to learn the lore of Moloch (though he has been around since the cover of 1st Edition–you came to see those sweet sweet stats, which, incidentally, ALSO suggest all kinds of story elements. So let’s see what exactly he can do.
Oof. What a brute–earns that CR 21 for certain. First of all, he’s got a pile of hit points. At 20th level 253 hit points is a couple of rounds, at least, and he’s got plenty of ways to extend his threat and take on a party. He’s a legendary monster, which means legendary resistance is great, but most notably none of his legendary actions take more than one. No matter what you do, he’ll ALWAYS have 3 actions outside of his normal turn (4 if someone causes him to use his reaction).
He is a decent brawler in his own right, making 3 attacks with a multiattack–and with a 30ft. reach on a large creature, he’s got a decent threat range. Make an attack with a whip, then pull your hapless victim close for that claw and bite. But that’s just the physical stuff–he’s also a potent spellcaster with an at-will (AT WILL) 7th-level burning hands. And Wall of Fire, Confusion, Stinking Cloud–there’s a lot going on there. Plus he can fly (as long as he can concentrate on the spell).
That plus the breath of despair and his innate regeneration make for a nasty opponent. And that’s just one example of the high level creatures you’ll run into in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.
If I were running him, I’d start with something like a Stinking Cloud or Confusion to try and incapacitate vulnerable foes, and use the crazy 30ft. reach to try and pull casters or other squishies in up close and personal. The real trick to running him though, is in his mobility. 253 hit points might seem like a lot, but at AC 19 he’s relatively fragile. Most high-level parties will have little trouble hitting him.
Moloch works best as a skirmisher or assassin type. Especially since he’s extremely mobile. Both Fly and his Teleport mean that he can avoid getting targeted. You’d really want to keep an eye on who’s coming up in the initiative order to make the most use of it. Ranged characters will have an easier time hitting you no matter what, but you can use Wall of Fire to seal off an area and teleport behind it. Especially if that means dragging a hapless victim through the area.
A particularly nasty trick is targeting a character who acts shortly after Moloch’s initial turn–preferably one with two or three pcs between him and the rest of the party. On your turn, attack that target with the whip/claw/bite routine. Then, before the PCs can close, teleport away (but still within 30ft of your target). Next turn, use a legendary action to whip, and then repeat as needed. Basically you can keep a target isolated while focusing them down. It highlights the importance of mobility for your players–it lets characters that are highly mobile shine. So your Monk, Sorcerers, Barbarians et al. will feel the most useful.
Same goes for characters that either heal at range, or are themselves individually very resilient. They make a great isolated target if you can put the hurt on them, and force them to use those abilities to survive, which is what you want. At any rate, he has a great means of challenging a party and, played smart, can stretch your players. I love that he’s a nice combo of resilience and damage dealing on a highly mobile monster. Moloch is surprisingly deadly, so get out there and use him folks.